Aircargopedia Newsblast: September 2021!
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17th September 2021  

Dear Air Cargo Professional:

Can Air Cargo meet the challenge of Covid-19 vaccine delivery by Pat from SUNTEC.

A deeper dive into Asset Management by Peter Canellis, Professor of Management, Vaughn College.

In more World Air Cargo news, Atlas Air reaches agreement with Union by Kevin Pflug.

Equine champions fly home on Emirates SkyCargo
  DJ Ghosh

D.J. Ghosh
President & Publisher
”The Complete Encyclopedia for the Air Cargo Professional & Investor”


Covid-19 Vaccine Delivery: Can Air Cargo Meet The Challenge?

In the race to defeat Covid-19, medical research is passing the baton to aviation. Vaccines have been designed, tested, and approved; now they’re starting to be delivered across the globe. Normally, the air cargo industry would easily have the capacity, network, and infrastructure to meet this challenge. But ironically, the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines depends on cargo capacity and robust air networks that the pandemic severely disrupted. Industry partners from regulators to manufacturers have been working together to look ahead and identify the obstacles that will need to be overcome for vaccines to be delivered safely and efficiently.

Capacity is the first challenge that must be addressed. Only about 40% of air freight is carried by dedicated cargo aircraft, while the rest is transported in the belly of passenger carrying aircraft. The epic drop in passenger demand has forced airlines to cut capacity, resulting in a 57% decrease in belly capacity compared to last year. Further, as flight schedules were slashed in response to plummeting demand, the networks connecting city pairs were also reduced, leaving cities with fewer air connections. Capacity and networks are slowly rebounding, primarily in the all-cargo sector, but there are still unanswered questions about exactly how much volume will be needed. The number of doses per vial of vaccine is not yet known for all types of vaccines, and that number will heavily influence how much vaccine each flight can carry safely.

Vaccines and other medicines also have stringent requirements that affect the infrastructure needed to transport them. Pfizer’s vaccine, the first to receive FDA approval, requires cold storage at -70 degrees. Maintaining this cold chain involves using special storage boxes equipped with dry ice. However, because dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide, the amount of dry ice that can be transported on each flight is strictly regulated. Both the FAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency have used the new data to issue updated guidance for operators, making it possible for airlines to carry more dry ice and therefore more vaccines safely.

The Pfizer vaccine with its ultra-cold requirements will only make up about 10% of the global vaccine supply, and most of that supply has already been bought up by wealthy countries with the infrastructure to support the cold chain. Moderna’s vaccine, already approved by the U.S. and other nations, only requires temperatures of -20 degrees. Since that temperature can be sustained without the use of dry ice, air transport of the Moderna vaccine will only be limited by cargo capacity.

Having capacity, network and infrastructure are critical, but even more critical may be coordination between vaccine manufacturers, storage equipment providers, freight forwarders and operators. The greatest challenge is timing. Once a vaccine is approved by any country, of course, they would like to get it shipped as soon as possible. No one can really predict when the approvals will come, so we all need to be very on our toes and be well prepared to serve the global community. Prior to the announcements of test results for vaccine trials in early December, the industry had prepared as well as it could. But as results came out and approvals were issued, there was a scramble as demand for vaccine transport increased almost overnight.

The sudden spike in demand also meant that the transportation process had to become very efficient. With a limited number of containers to carry vaccines requiring cold storage, logistics planning had to include delivering the empty containers back to the country where the vaccine is manufactured, so the cycle could be repeated.

The high value, and in some circles, controversial nature of Covid-19 vaccines means that security must also be considered. Although the scale of the Covid-19 vaccine airlift is vast, experts point out that airlines have been transporting high value, cold chain pharmaceuticals for years.

Pat Praveen

For any questions, please contact Pat at
For more info please visit

IATA World Cargo Symposium

A Deeper Dive into Asset Management: Preserving and Extending Economic Life

A previous installment of this series (Article #7) some time ago sketched out a high-level perspective on Asset Management. In this and some future installments, we’ll explore the critically important subject of Asset Management in more detail.

We can conceive of Asset Management processes as falling into the following categories:
• Forecasting Requirements
• Procuring Assets
• Deploying Assets
• Preserving and Extending the Economic Life of Assets
• Disposing of Old Assets.

Asset Management

Activities in preserving and extending the economic life of assets can be further divided into the work categories illustrated in the figure below

Asset Management

These activities support life extension work which, in turn, include subprocesses focusing on actual scheduling and performing of required work.

Asset Management

Scheduling and performance of work has evolved from basic reactive maintenance to sophisticated condition-based maintenance that contributes, not only to extending the life of an asset, but also minimizing out-of-service “downtime”, thus effecting maximum utilization.

Asset Management

Detailed activities of the Asset Management Process Model are included in the illustrations because attention to their proper execution are essential in maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire Asset Management program.

Peter Canellis

Peter Canellis
Professor of Management
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology

Transport Logistics

Atlas Air Reaches Agreement With Union

16 September 2021

On September 10, Atlas Air announced that the company has finalized a new joint collective bargaining agreement for its Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots, who are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

In a press release, Atlas Air stated that the five-year joint agreement is one of the company’s last major steps in completing Atlas Air’s merger with Southern Air, which it acquired in 2016.

The new joint collective bargaining agreement was achieved through a series of negotiations followed by binding arbitration to resolve several remaining open issues. Under this new agreement, Atlas Air and Southern Air pilots will receive higher pay and enhanced benefits as part of the overall competitive package.

In announcing the labor contract, President and CEO of Atlas Air John Dietrich stated, “Our company has long prepared for this investment in our pilots and has factored these new terms and conditions into customer contract negotiations. We continue to see strong demand for our aircraft and services as we expand and extend customer agreements. We are well-positioned to leverage the diversity of our business model to capitalize on very favorable global airfreight market conditions.”

The union for the pilots, however, was less than pleased with the results of the binding arbitration process and took to Twitter to lambast the new joint agreement.

The union was particularly disturbed that it’s members were not given the opportunity to vote on the “agreement” that was approved by the labor arbitrators. In several tweets, the union noted that it has been over 20 years since Atlas Air’s pilots have been allowed to vote on the terms of their employment conditions and compensation.

From its @AtlasAirPilots Twitter account, the pilots’ union noted that its pilots are the best in the business and that CEO Dietrich “won't allow them to vote on a contract, provides a limited career path and still compensates below the ‘big guys.’ No wonder the airline has a pilot shortage.”

The union also expressed its displeasure with the new joint agreement by tweeting that Atlas Air’s “business will be greatly damaged by this forced pilot agreement. Atlas Air bosses have lost the confidence and respect of pilots. It’s a catastrophe and a blow to Atlas Air. Pilots realize they have no future at this airline.”

Atlas Air’s shares are near an all-time high and have rallied from a low of around $22 a share during the start of the pandemic to around $78 a share, as of this writing.

Peter Canellis
Kevin Pflug

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Equine champions fly home on Emirates SkyCargo

Dubai, UAE, 15 September 2021

On the afternoon of 2nd September, EK 9497, an Emirates Boeing 777 freighter transporting 40 horses from Haneda Airport landed at Liege Airport. This was the last of the 16 flights that Emirates SkyCargo operated to transport champion horses between Liege and Tokyo, bringing to a successful close one of the largest horse charter movements in the history of air transport.

Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo, said: "Emirates SkyCargo is delighted to have successfully wrapped up the horse charters for the world’s most prestigious sporting event. It was a monumental effort from our team requiring months of planning and coordination with our partners and authorities to make sure that these international equine champions were given the best care and flight experience. We drew upon our extensive experience flying horses for sporting events across the world for the last two decades to operate the 16 flights between Liege and Tokyo."

Emirates SkyCargo transported 316 horses on eight flights from Liege to Tokyo and 323 horses on an equal number of flights for the return journey over a period of seven weeks with the first flight operated on 13th July and the last operated on 2nd September.


The 16 flights were operated by three Emirates Boeing 777 freighters in a high density configuration (A6-EFG, A6-EFH and A6-EFK) allowing for between 9 and 11 grooms to fly with and look after the equine guests on each flight. In all, 157 grooms flew on the charter flights between Liege and Tokyo.

A total of 60 Emirates flight deck crew operated the 16 horse charter flights. The air cargo carrier also transported 336 horse stalls, more than 160 tonnes of special equipment and food and drink for the equine champions on its flights.

Emirates SkyCargo worked with Peden Bloodstock and the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) closely over 18 months to finalise the details of the charter flights and to ensure that the horses would travel in a comfortable and stress free environment and be ready to hit the ground running on arrival.

The charter planning team at Emirates SkyCargo ensured the entire operation ran like clockwork, including securing available aircraft, flight deck crew, loadmasters and technical ground support teams. As it was also the first time Emirates SkyCargo operated cargo flights with horses to Haneda Airport, the air cargo carrier coordinated extensively with the local authorities to make sure that the unloading and loading of the horses took place smoothly.

Emirates is one of the world’s leaders in air transportation of horses for sporting events. The carrier has developed Emirates Equine, a specialised product for the calm and comfortable transportation of horses on its Boeing 777 freighter aircraft which complies with IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) and all other applicable guidelines.

Emirates SkyCargo is the airfreight division of Emirates. Through its state of the art hub in Dubai, Emirates SkyCargo transports cargo to over 140 destinations across a global network spanning six continents. The air cargo carrier offers customers cargo capacity on its modern fleet of all widebody Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft. For more information,

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